Monday, November 1, 2010

The conception of the virgin Mary/Luther

I will be very brief, because this week is very busy.  I should go on Sendepause.

Just one thing, if you would like to see some work James Swan did on refuting some Roman Catholic's misuse of one of Luther's sermons, repeated from book to book, and spread far and wide,  please go see this current post.  I spent quite a bit of time reading the sermon in question in various versions this weekend, and translated some portions of it for James, summarized the rest, and made some comments, pointed out some inconsistencies.  This is a great pleasure and honor for me to do for him to help advance his Luther apologetics work.

Here are two versions of the entire sermon in German.  One version has summary that the other one is lacking.  The other one has an ending that was removed after that particular edition.  You may read and comment if you can and like.  When I have time, I might translate it all here.  Maybe next week.  Ask me questions if you like.  Also see my comment on James Swan's post.

All Luther was really trying to say:  Stop speculating.  Stick with what you have in scripture.  Fight your original sin.  Be born again by baptism.  Struggle with the old Adam daily.  Don't bother spending time on praising Mary, listen to the word, instead!

Version one:  p. 282 and onward.
Version two (different ending in dispute), p. 43 onward.

See also this new post, which lists the Latin version and the Danish version.
Also James Swan has updated his post.

This week is Love Live Conference Edmonton!  See you there!


Bror Erickson said...

You know, I've written on this topic before. I believe Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. After that...
Well, I don't get the preoccupation with her sex life, or lack thereof. The doctrine of the semper virgo is a collosal waste of time. what ultimately does it matter? Except that it glorifies virginity, and helps to give good catholic girls a confused complex concerning their roles as wives, further negating the sanctity of marriage.

James Swan said...

The topic though isn't perpetual virginity, but rather immaculate conception. While they're related within Romanism, they aren't the same thing.

It can't be denied that Luther strongly defended Mary's perpetual viriginity. While holding this belief, Luther will not have Mary’s perpetually virginity extolled. He condemns those who venerate this attribute, and notes that it exists only to bring forth the Messiah.

On the other hand, with an increasing interest in the holiness of Mary, the Western Church became absorbed into the question of her immaculate conception. Up till around 1527 or so, one can produce evidence that Luther believed Mary was sinless from birth. After that, it gets a bit more complicated in determining Luther's view.

Brigitte was kind enough to help me out with the contexts mentioned in this post. While perhaps most of us wouldn't quibble over such details, some Roman Catholics tend to use Luther's writings as propaganda in order to win converts.

Bror Erickson said...

I'm not arguing with you or Brigitte with the need to do some of this work. And you are right, different topics, but intertwined. I think they are both demonic. Mary needed the death and resurrection of her son just as much as the rest of us.

James Swan said...

sorry, I wasn't trying to be argumentative- especially not with a guy with a rifle! (:

Regards- James

Brigitte said...

I think if we asked Mary why she was blessed, she would say it is because God is good, who does all these things which she lists, same as why other people are blessed.

What I am I saying; we don't even have to ask her. She prolaims it loud and strong and we've been singing it ever since.

Ben m said...


The doctrine of the semper virgo is a collosal waste of time. what ultimately does it matter? Except that it glorifies virginity, and helps to give good catholic girls a confused complex concerning their roles as wives, further negating the sanctity of marriage.

The celibate apostle is quite explicit:

“I wish that all of you WERE AS I AM (celibate). But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is GOOD for them to STAY UNMARRIED, as I do. 9 But IF THEY CANNOT CONTROL THEMSELVES, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” 1 Corinthians 7: 7-9

So celibacy is praiseworthy and encouraged both in Scripture and in Catholic teaching and tradition. In Protestantism it is abominated!

As for who actually has the dishonor of “negating the sanctity of marriage,” I would simply urge you, my friend, to read pp. 289-303 of Denifle’s work on Luther . There you will see who truly denigrates the sanctity of the holy sacrament of marriage!


Brigitte said...

Ben and others. Thanks for comments. We just finished our LoveLife conference in Edmonton on Sexuality, where Dr. Chambers, New Testament scholar gave a very good study on what Paul has to say on the subject.

I still have to find a way to get all this uploaded.

Ben, you must be more fair in your scriptural interpretation. If Paul were commanding that people should be celibate or even hoping that lots of them were, it would go against God's command in Genesis to multiply and be fruitful. Certainly, we won't pit Paul against Genesis. I am thinking more and more that Paul had a bad experience, and now was free to give himself fully to his mission. There is absolutely no command here and no pressure on anybody.

This is a matter of inclination and freedom. He is so very clear about that. And in MARRIAGE none is to deprive the other. He is very clear that both husband and wife are to be satisfied in love. This is a command, now.

Brigitte said...

Please, note the sermon is also found in Latin at

Also see James' blog entry and comments for further information.

Brigitte said...

Ben, we have read plenty of Luther in German and in English in primary sources. We know the man and his teaching quite well. We don't need some secondary or further down the road stuff to have our minds twisted on what he said.

"Ad fontes" the reformation always said.